Thursday, November 26, 2015

BAREILLY: What do train drivers say when they have to pee? "I am sick."

Usually, when someone says he is sick, he is supposed to be unwell. But in the Indian Railways this is the official message that is flashed by loco pilots driving express and superfast trains if they wish to answer nature's call.

In the absence of washrooms inside loco cabins and strict directives never to leave the engine unattended, a train's pilot, if he wishes to use the loo, has to send this message to the control room, which then makes arrangements for his replacement at the next major station.

In terms of facilities provided by the railways, loco pilots, it seems, are the most deprived. On the contrary, the guard's cabin is equipped with a washroom. Travelling ticket examiners (TTE), meanwhile, have access to toilets in every passenger coach.

"In such a situation for the loco pilot, he has no option but to flash a message to the control room that says 'I am sick'. After this, railway authorities make prompt arrangements to provide a reliever at the next station," said divisional railway manager (DRM) of the North Eastern Railway (Izzat Nagar division) Chandra Mohan Jindal.

He added that at present there are around 350 loco pilots manning trains on different routes in this division alone. Across the country the figure may run into thousands. Normally, the duty hours of loco pilots are not more than eight hours. But at times it gets extended to 10-12 hours if the train is late. It is in such scenarios that the drivers sometimes have no option but to send out an SOS.

Chief public relations officer, Northern Railway, Neeraj Sharma told TOI, "The issue related to construction of a washroom or toilet inside loco driver cabins has come up before the railways ministry, and toilets were constructed on an experimental basis in loco driver cabins of some trains. However, a full-fledged exercise on the project is yet to take off."

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